Yesterday the music world lost a singer, songwriter, actor, and fabled man of mystery.
Legendary performer Leon Redbone has passed away at the age of 69, though in typical Redbone deadpan humor, the official announcement listed his age at 127. NPR, citing his “perpetually anachronistic” style, additionally listed his age as “unknown.”
Redbone was first discovered by Bob Dylan at a folk festival in the 1970s, a connection that led to a major record deal and regular appearances on SNL and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show throughout the 80s and 90s.
In addition to his albums and live performances for which he played a variety of instruments, Redbone also lent his signature voice to many popular commercials and television characters.
To a younger generation, Redbone is best known as the snowman in the 2003 holiday movie, Elf.
However, a new documentary titled “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” looks to expand the singer’s legend status and further cement his memory across all generations and demographics.
The film’s title is about one of Redbone’s most popular songs. While it currently doesn’t have a major release date, it has been shown at select film festivals.
With his signature look, often including sunglasses and a white Panama hat, he’s been described as being reminiscent of a time-traveler. And, of course, with Dylan’s commendation, there was certainly measurable interest in the quirky musician.
His performances incorporated several genres, including folk, jazz, and ragtime. And, of course, he also sang the theme song to the 1980s sitcom, Mr. Belvedere.
His iconic, individualistic style cut through pop culture’s air of extravagance. While many were focused on “glitter rock and roll,” Redbone took a more casual approach. With an acoustic guitar in hand, he deferred to the sounds of the ’30s and ’40s.
Thanks to an appearance on Saturday Night Live, he was soon on his way to becoming a legend. Even still, he stayed faithful to his roots.